On Marriage : Two Years of Sometimes Perfect and Often Difficult

Alexis and I have gone on some amazing trips in our two years together. Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Paris, Columbia, Seattle, Portland, SF, Barcelona, and Cambodia. There might be more but I started to feel boastful. You can’t do anything without someone thinking something about it. That is why your intent is the only thing that can be considered when deciding what to say/do/write. My intention is to write as close to the truth as possible about my experience being married.

I have always seen marriage as the enemy to my freedom. It’s a key construct of my thinking that contributes to much of my daily struggle. Half of me would like to overcome this belief. Half of me would like to submit to the impossibility of being happy with one person for an eternity and walk away labeling myself as unmarriable.

Life is hard, all on its own. Relationships offer you a break from that at first. You start liking someone, thinking about them at night, getting sick to your stomach, then they like you back and everything is perfect and the world stands no chance.

Eventually we stop being our best. And life goes back to normal, only this time the harshness of it is multiplied by two.

We’ve been on some amazing trips. And we take good pictures together. And if you read us in our writing group or follow us on Instagram you’d probably be thinking #relationshipgoals 9 times out of 10. But on some of those trips we (after I have one of my monthly existential crisis) discuss the concept of how hard it is to be married and possibly not being together anymore.

It happened on our honeymoon. We were walking the streets of Paris at night and I was hit in the chest with all of the realizations of being with just one person for the rest of my life and I wanted to be teleported to a mountain in China or into a colosseum with a lion.

Everyone says they have the best significant other. Like when they write cards or FB posts. And they also think their kid is the smartest when it’s little. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve overheard talking about their kid being a genius. I’ve met these kids and I’m sorry to report, not a genius.

But I can honestly say without hesitation that Alexis is the best partner I could ever imagine. The thought of her tenderness never fails to make me emotional.

It’s the actual living together every day that brings the feeling of a wet rag slowly being stuffed into my mouth.

We didn’t talk much on our honeymoon. It was cold and rainy. I was pouting about the straight line trajectory of my new life. She was probably devastated to confirm that she couldn’t trust her partner with all of her heart. I had, intentionally, placed the thought of impermanence in her mind. A sure thing will always die. We both cried and I probably became deeply aroused at the emotional chaos I had stoked.

A year later, on our anniversary trip in Cartegena, we all but broke up. We packed the whole thing up nicely and all that was left was putting it in the mail. But you go to bed and when you wake up it was just a dream and there is nothing to do.

We concluded that coupling ruins a person. Turns them basic. Stops you from being scared and uncomfortable. Turns you into a safe and predictable version of yourself.

We both admitted we felt like cooler people when we were single. I was more proud of myself. The freedom inspired me.

I had my wedding ring stolen a few months into our marriage. I can’t bring myself to buy a new one. The band around my finger was subconsciously around my throat.

I am not emotionally abusive. I am not physically abusive. But my obsession with perfection is wearing, I’m sure. I work on it every day. Which makes every day I’m alive a job. Whenever we are together we are working on something – her being more organized, me being less judgmental. I am chased through every room in the house by the need to improve on something or make a compromise. There are few moments when it is just her and I in front of each other with nothing in between.

I have come to need something in between. Whether it be work or, well, more work. The distance between gives me an option out of the intense work that is intimacy.

People just stop liking each other. And then they get hobbies. Home just in time for late dinner on their phones together. Then perfectly time the night routines so it doesn’t seem like anything is out of place but you’re never colliding or having moments. Under the same roof navigating routes like Naval strategists. Always doing something, never just being together.

We sat in our bedroom in Colombia overlooking the ocean talking about whether or not we were happy. Two young, smart, and talented people on their 5th vacation in the last twelve months talking about how being together has taken away our sense of excitement.

It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, we were still battling the reality of being in a relationship with each other. No longer friends that shared special times together but a couple that shares every time together.

When you’re in a relationship you’re in the business of making concessions, somewhere close to 10,000 a day I’m guessing.

We are sold on a dream. A picture of a moment – the best moment – becomes the representation of what is to be expected. Sweaty nights on Havana streets surrounded by beautiful women with music in the air and the taste of tequila on your mouth. When really it’s just hot and you’re mostly praying the sweat hugging the curves of your ass doesn’t breach the fabric of your clothes so the whole country knows what a loser you really are.

Real life is never used to tell stories. Because real life is difficult and slow.

All of this in a conversation, her sitting on the bed, me on the couch.

And then, suddenly, you’re on a mountain surrounded by a village without so much as a single TV and filled with people in rags who stare at you slowly as you drive by in your taxi and it’s bedtime and you hear loud music and fireworks and buzzers and dogs barking and you’re legitimately scared so you roll over and put your arms around your wife and hold her tight like you used to and feel the small frame of her body that you memorized in your hands and it becomes fresh again even if just for a second.

There are so many good moments and things I’ve learned from her but “We” means that “I” have died and that’s the only person I’ve ever known so I feel a bit lost.

And then we’re riding horses through the jungle and onto a private beach where we drink from fresh coconuts and wade in the warm Caribbean water. And on the walk back the dark clouds roll in and blast us with thunder and lightning and rain and we are soaking wet but so happy because we are kids again and that’s all we ever want.

To be a kid with someone else who is always watching and always expecting is the most difficult work in the world.

So why not hang it up? Accept the millennial curse of short-term love and move onto the next exciting adventure.

In every breakup I have gotten the ‘I’m done’ feeling inside. Shortly after, I’ve moved to end it. My explanation is always logical and well thought out like I expect to give her a gold watch and leave with a handshake. Then it’s time to move on.

I don’t have that feeling with Alexis. Her tenderness has carved a small space in my heart. She touches me despite all my efforts to keep her out. Which creates the bigger feeling of wanting to see what is on the other side of this paralyzing fear of intimacy. But I have no tools for it. And it’s not exactly something they teach you after algebra. It is incredible work. I’ve always avoided incredible work. My friend once told me that talent never thinks it has to work. I agree. I also know there is no talent for long-term relationships. Charm dies after the first few months. The rest is the work.

This is how I feel about relationships on March 4th, 2018. Alexis, I love you very much and I’m sorry I’m so difficult.